Today, I have been doing the things that didn't get done yesterday. I found a place that was still selling monthly muni passes and got one, went to the post office and got a bunch of money orders so that, when the time comes, I can say to any of these landlords "Here's first, last, security, and a couple extra months on top of it, all in cash. Can I move in now?" I also found a FedEx and printed my credit report and bank statement, so I'll also be able to hand the prospective landlord proof of my solvency and of the fact that my credit is essentially perfect. If that doesn't do it, I don't know what will.
From there, I've been walking the ground, looking at apartments. The very first one I looked at is in a Holy God gorgeous neighborhood, with a Safeway just up the street and multiple laundromats within three blocks. It's also just under half the rent that I was paying in Manhattan, and is one of the more expensive places I will be looking at today; if the quality of the other neighborhoods is even close to this good, I'm going to have a wide set of options.
I have paused briefly to write this up and will now be moving on to some of the other neighborhoods.
Observation #2: Public transit out here is far more attractive than in New York, but is also more primitive.
2.A) Instead of having one integrated system there are two disconnected ones: BART and Muni, where Muni has trains, buses, and trolleys. The BART has farecards but uses point-to-point pricing (i.e. it costs more the farther you travel), while the Muni fixed-price but cash-only unless you have a monthly pass. (EDIT: As sinboy points out, the more expensive version of the monthly pass will also let you ride the BART within city limits, but not outside them.)
2.B) The monthly passes are based on calendar month, not 30-days-from-date-of-issue.
2.C) They print and distribute the monthly passes at the beginning of each month and when they run out (usually by the end of the first week), there just aren't any more.
2.D) Finally, both systems essentially shut down around 11pm or midnight--there are a few late-night lines (called "OWL lines") that stay open, but it becomes very hard to get around in the evening.
Observation #3: Almost nothing out here takes credit cards. It's cash or debit. Weird.
Observation #4 (I already knew this, but it bears repeating): This city is so much prettier than New York. Murals, architecture, terrain, everything.